UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview. Underneath the interview section are reviews/complaints from current and former Pret Staff.
You can still listen to the interview while scrolling below to the many staff complaints. Links to the reviews open in a new window or tab depending on what’s selected.
Or Audio Player:
Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.
The main subject being workplace bullying, we also spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general and what to look out for in an interview for a new job. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.
It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.
Pret Staff Complaints
Pret: “We aim to connect with every customer with eye contact, a smile and some polite remarks. Rate the engagement level of the person who served you at the till.”
Mystery Shopper: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile …”
A customer complained on Twitter about how when it is very busy the manager is not helping on the shop floor but sitting in the office. I mention this in my interview as well.
The second Tweet is a response to the CEO’s reply to the above tweet, yet it’s not addressed to his Twitter account nor posted in the same feed as above. I wonder what that’s all about:
If you prefer to skip this into, just scroll down to the red heading Selected Quotes that link to reviews I want to highlight.
UPDATE: Nov. 2018
Undercover reporter in Pret sparked by my blog.
NOTE from the start: I myself did approx. 300 – 500 transactions per day depending what shift I was on and how busy the shop was in general. This means I served not 300 – 500 individual people, but more than that. ONE transaction can be 1 customer or a group of people ordering and paying together. Even with one transaction serving a group, you speak with several people about their order etc. So, on average I spoke individually with no less than 500 – 800+ people a day, plus colleagues, bosses, answering the phone etc. Multiply that by how many more are in a team… and one gets the idea of customer flow in a shop, it’s like a train station. I still have some of the reports of the summaries and a chronic beeping and roaring tinnitus…
It depended on how many hours per day I worked and what my job was for the day. If on coffee, I mostly listened to orders but didn’t speak as much directly with customers. Same in the kitchen. But with all the amount of customer interaction, Pret’s brutal expectation for profit is that staff members connect with EVERY customer, smile, eye contact, small conversation. If they fail, they are summoned into the office or anywhere away from customers, are told off, at times threatened with their job security, send out and ordered to smile by a non-smiling manager. I will add an extra blog entry on the mental and emotional strain and what I also experienced, the mental abuse by superiors when the Mystery Shopper report wasn’t as positive (= less bonus for the managers). Pret doesn’t even stop when staff become bereaved as I had to experience so traumatically.
The press called this “emotional labour”. Quote:
“… in The New Republic, Timothy Noah observes that the sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger aggressively monitors its employees’ displays of enthusiasm. If any worker at any particular store seems insufficiently pleased to see their customers, he and all of his coworkers could suffer the consequences. Pret CEO Clive Schlee even monitors whether his employees are making enough affectionate physical contact with each other.” Link
I can absolutely verify the aggressiveness of this. I still don’t know how I survived.
Further below I listed selected reviews as “Quotes” from the long list of Pret Staff Complaints. These are EXACT quotes linked from various Employment Review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc. as well as my own story regarding Pret A Manger on my Blog here. I left any mistake in the reviews to keep it in their own words. These selected reviews I chose from the many in the above link because I can underline those as I have experienced Pret similar (and even worse).
When customers who are so impressed with Pret because they only see the outside, the facade through the PR(et) machine, when they ask Pret about these complaints, they are too easily sweet-talked into believing that this is just an unfortunate exception. But the truth will always come to the surface, no matter how long it takes.
Since I compiled all the staff complaints there seem to be quite a lot more “positive” reviews appearing, especially regarding “good” management, training and work environment, all issues that is really appalling in Pret and the numerous reviews speak about. If there are fake news, I am not alleging anything, but there may be fake reviews! Knowing how Pret and their HR dept. work, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone writes these reviews.
And since I compiled these complaints, the Pret website as well as the CEO’s has as the main pinned Tweets the “good” deeds Pret & the CEO are doing, again excellent working PR(et) machine. There are good managers and good shops of course, but the management style in Pret to pressure for more targets and profit, is poisoned throughout the company. And in time the truth will always come out.
As true reviews will always continue on the same lines of horrible and bullying management until this changes. Pret does annual staff questionnaires that are at times manipulated by management. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if some are leaving fake reviews.
In the meantime, click on ANY of the below reviews and read the same from different years, even days ago and different countries, in a nutshell: bullying, discriminating management, over worked, missing pay etc.
There are also a lot of complaints regarding being overworked for extra time but not being paid for it. I can verify this as I had to chase my missing hours for years! Pret Staff in the UK and elsewhere should do what over 4000 Pret staff did in the U.S. with a class action suit regarding missing pay.
This review from a former London TM from 13. Aug. 2018 makes this very clear. I called this “Quote of the Day” entry the “Wage Watchers” Program in Pret.
UPDATE end of Nov. 2018: An undercover investigation sparked by my blog. Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover in Pret after reading my experience and my suggestion to go undercover to see for herself. She “only” worked a few days in the shop, not the kitchen, and can’t do an in-depth cover like my 10 years in Pret and the below reviews. But it is a good start that scratches the surface on how it is behind the scenes. My comments on her findings in my blog post:
“Undercover Under Pressure in Pret”
#01 Pray A Manger “Get ready to lick so many a**ses to advance”
#02 Cry A Manger “The Brainwash is real… A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period.”
#03 Pret A Mess “Always messing up pay”
#04 Threat A Manger “Very bad management. They treat you like a slave. You have zero value for them. … They threa[t] us and show the door if we don’t work very fast.”
#05 Pret A Fear “Please get the bullies out. … Now your people work in fear.”
#06 Pret A Mistake “Horrible place they shout at you all the time for any little mistake.”
#07 Pret A Bullied “The image of the happy environment is a joke.”
#08 Pret A Blackmail “Your subjected to emotional blackmail and serious labor issues”
#09 Corrupt A Manager “Worst company to work for … the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear.”
#10 Kiss A Bum “Managers treat you poorly, they are racist and discriminating. If you want to get promotion you have to sleep with someone and kiss manager’s bum.”
#11 Pret A Squeeze “Management is trying to squeeze you like a lemon …. no weekends off, not even 2 days off together.”
#12 PR(et) A Manipulative “Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees … Genuinely fake and dishonest company.” (Former IT Analyst’s review on Pret’s Head Office)
#13 Regret A Manger “I regret working there.”
#14 Define A Manager “Lack of defined management, finger-pointing, politics and poor organisation.”
#15 Pret Annihilates Humanity “This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you.”
#16 Poor A Manger “Poor and terrible management.”
#17 Pret A Shame “The training should be more about encouraging people than shouting and shaming them.”
#18 Pret A Missing Pay “I want to be as loud as possible here – PRET DOESN’T CARE.”
#20 Bad A Manager “Bad management and not taking care about people … do not give power to irresponsible people”
#21 Pret A Slave Stressful and dominating … Leaders treat you like slaves.
#22 Pret A HaRsh “HR problems, employee is treated really badly…”
#23 Pret A Smile “you are required to have the widest fake smile on earth”
#24 Rude A Manager “Management and some members of staff were extremely rude and patronising”
#25 Pret A Bad “A shame that such a big company is becoming so bad day by day.”
#26 Pret A Push “Little training was just pushed at the deep end as soon as I started the job”
#29 Pret A M*ffin “…team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear … now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know … get rid of some top management who are so corrupt”
#31 Pret A Joke “You have a limited time to do your job everyday but this time limit is a joke. they give me the next rota just the day before the week starts.”
#32 Pret A Nothing “didn’t learn nothing as i have things to give to that shop as i came with lots of experience and skills.”
#33 Red A Manager “their [managers] personality only is good for business, but not for the people that work under.”
#35 Trap A Manger “It’s a trap! … Huge stress. Never stops. … Shouting all around. … Say something nice from time to time. Don’t insult them!”
#36 Pret A Unpaid “Very unfair company”
#37 Pret A Scream “One of the things that I absolutely hated about working at pret, was the fact that management wanted you to act like you were having fun and smile at all times.”
#38 Pret A Manager “the staff are great the guys who do the real work. The management suck” (review by a manager)
#39 Pret A No Respetar “Los managers son penosos“, “un horror!!” “desastrosa” and “todo… no tiempo libre, no respeto..”
#40 Odd A Manger “company going in one direction and then the opposite” (review from a former Purchasing Director, NYC)
#41 Pret A Scam “This job is a scam you work hours and hours and it never matches your check”
#42 Pret A Shady “really shady company. They worked us off the clock and would be quick to transfer even there best workers over favoritism”
#43 Pret A Blame “overworking envornment , discriminating HR , unprofessional managers”
#44 Pret A Bos(s)ton “No person deserves to be traumatized or stressed to death by work. Current laws do not address interpersonal cruelty at work.”
#45 Pret A Powerkid “whichever is your mental state, you have to be happy and smile…you can also suddenly be under the powerkid that is mainly rude,… setting up your rota to damage your personal life just for fun, or shouting at you in front of the others…”
#46 Pret Abusive Staff “Discriminatory management Unprofessional atmosphere Abusive staff”
#47 Squeeze A Lemon “Management is trying to squeeze you like a lemon”
#49 Pret A Cutting Staff “Poor management and under-trained … Pret A Manger has cut down on staff so theres more a lot more of things to do and not enough staff to do everything, so employees are being worked harder. Management do not have sympathy or care for employees”
#50 Pret A Not Worth “Not Worth The Stress … Either stop cutting hours or stop giving teams a ridiculous amount of tasks to complete.”
#51 Pret A Brainwash “There are a lot of favouritism, which leads to promoting incompetent people to more senior roles.”
#52 Pret A Mental Abuse “Hostile work environment … mental and verbal abuse physical violence in the workplace”
#53 Pret A Horrible “Extremely stressful managers dont know anything and drama every day. People need to know how to take responsibility there. I wouldn’t work there.”
#54 Wage Watchers Progam at Pret “Keep track of your own wages – left with more than £100 owed to me which I had to claim back! … I was made to feel like I was in the wrong and spoken to rudely.”
#55 Pret A Exploitation “You should probably consider buying industrial machines to make sandwiches instead of focusing on exploitation East-European employees.”
The Pret A Manger Staff Uniform Cupboard for a perfect smile all day long.
#56 Pret A Mask “Team member should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful enough to smile that day”
Dear Misery Shopper, Team Members are not paid the first 2-3 days when off sick. If you’d pay staff sick leave, they will stay home and cough!
“request people to show a ‘fake’ happiness” … “you are required to have the widest fake smile on earth”
#57 Pret A Shout “…all they seem to do is try to create robots that operate at 100mph and have no personality … I’d sacrifice a paid break and a free lunch for a decent environment to work in where I’m not shouted at daily, and made to feel sub human.”
#58 Pret A Condescending “Insure management respects the workers and don’t be condescending on them, please don’t act over controlling in respect to ensuring we work like robots”
#59 Pret A Anger “”!!!! … !!!!! … !!!!!!!! … !!!””
#60 Pret A Modern-day Slavery “When you follow [the points and rules] they then moan that you are to slow and need to hurry”
#61 Pret A Slave’s Company “If someone can’t finish job on time has to stay longer, for free. Common practise is to give someone job to do, just a couple of minutes before end of shift and after telling that “you couldn’t finish on time, because you are to slow.”
#62 Pret A Noxious “Go back to the UK, Pret I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience”
#64 Pret A Manchester “need to hire different managers, ones that respect staff. the ones there now, shout at staff, don’t understands there circumstances or disabilities”
#65 Pret A Politics “Poor management resulting in poor decisions. Office culture is working really really long hours. No work life balance whatsoever and constant office politics”
#67 Pret A Lacking Staff “Busy and stressful environment whit no support from management. – Forget about contracted hours! You will be doing overtime most of the time, as there is a lack of staff nearly in every Pret.”
#68 Pret A Money Hungry Regarding doing charity for the homeless: “The help they do is just for public to bring more customers in. Behind is chaos.”
#69 Pret Abuse of Team Members “Team members are abused by work in terms of quantity of work and responsibilities”
#70 Pret A Zero Stars “Pret does not deserve even 1 star. I regret having worked there.”
Comprehensive Pret A Manger Staff Complaints– compiled from Employment Review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc.
Undercover Report sparked by my blog.
From only few of these complaints and my own experience, which has almost cost me my life, working in a toxic, unfulfilling, non-rewarding and right out dangerous work environment that gives no room for people being vulnerable in bereavement or mental health issues, behind the scenes it is a very different story to what Pret presents at the front. The annual questionnaire Pret does to ask staff of their experience is flawed as some managers manipulate those, I know of one manager who has been dismissed for manipulating (doing the questionnaire online on behalf of those who did not want to participate), another has been caught by staff, but none has raised the issue.
I have raised a grievance as my shop had a 100% participation in the questionnaire, even though I did not participate in it. The hearing was not investigated properly, and only vague assumptions have been made by HR, but no thorough investigation took place, which would have been easy to be made as I was one of 4 Team Leaders, the external company who held the questionnaire could have been contacted with the shop number that was assigned to my shop to see how many Team Leaders participated and could have scrutinized the wording, as I am very particular in my wording.
So, these anonymous complaints that I gathered will repeat itself on the same lines as linked here. The shiny facade will sooner later crumble, and hopefully things will be truly changed and not just PR and slogans presented. But I doubt it, as money is just corrupting people too much.
I am proud to say that the unions in the UK and the U.S. (with further being informed) are now aware of and having an eye on Pret A Manger that has gotten away with so much mistreatment of their hard working people for so many years. The time will come that even Pret will lose its facade, just as companies like McDonald already did so many years ago. My work is done!
I almost lost my life and am struggling to find my way back to living a normal, anxiety-free life again.
A customer in Chicago commenting on a deceased Pret staff and Pret itself:
“I knew Dante. He was an extremely nice person. That being said, Pret is a horrible company to work for.”
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.
Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.